Advice for Female Physicians to Negotiate Higher Salaries

Sandra Levy


July 03, 2018

In This Article

Female Physicians Don't Negotiate as Aggressively as Men

More women are entering the field of medicine, and yet, by and large, they are still earning less than their male counterparts.

In fact, this year, male doctors earned $239,000, almost 18% more than females' $203,000, according to Medscape's Physician Compensation Report 2018, based on responses from over 20,000 physicians. Male specialists earn $358,000, about 36% more than female specialists ($263,000).

Many claim that bias is a reason for the pay discrepancy. Other reasons frequently cited for the wage gap include women choosing lower paying specialties or asking for nonmonetary benefits such as flexibility in their schedule. Some say that, because women don't know what male physicians are actually earning, they don't know how much they should ask for.

A reason gaining attention for the pay disparity is that female physicians don't negotiate as aggressively as their male counterparts, and some don't even negotiate at all.

Women Negotiate for Patients, Not for Themselves

Kim Templeton, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center, in Kansas City, and a past-president of the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA), said, "I had no idea I was supposed to negotiate. This was never discussed during my training, which is why I include it now with residents. Men are taught from an early age to negotiate for what they want. Women tend to be brought up to do things for the good of others, to undervalue their talents, and be appreciative for whatever they get. I'm trying to get the message out to other women to not fall into that trap. They need to adequately value their talents and what they bring to an organization."

According to Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, only 30% of women bother to negotiate at all, compared with 46% of men.[1]

Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, executive director of Indiana University National Center of Excellence in Women's Health and past president of AMWA, agrees that women shy away from negotiating. "Women physicians are good at negotiating for patients and arguing to get what we need for them, but when it comes to ourselves, it's more difficult to do," she said.


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